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My MBP (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) has been hit by a small object on its keyboard. I was thinking it didn't get any damage, but several keys are not working anymore and the keyboard backlight is also down. It seems that the location of the hit didn't affect the non working keys (it felt on the left size of the keyboard and several right key are down too)

the left Shift ⇧ control ⌃ option ⌥ does not respond so I can't reset the SMC

Is there a way to reset it without keyboard?

So far I tried to :

  • reset PRAM/NVRAM
  • start up in safe mode
  • reinstall macOS

but the keyboard is still completely unresponsive and the backlight is not working. The Touchbar, however, is working fine.

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    I don't see how resetting the SMC is going to fix physical damage, but try a USB keyboard.
    – Tetsujin
    May 8, 2020 at 14:27
  • USB keyboard didn't work, also apple says that you have to use the left key of the original keyboard... I don't think it is physical, otherwise the blacklight should work at least for the non damage key ?
    – Edd Growl
    May 8, 2020 at 14:31
  • The backlight tracks won't be shared with the actual functional key tracks. No reason they should both have broken to the same pattern
    – Tetsujin
    May 8, 2020 at 15:12
  • Your computer has the Apple T2 Security Chip so there are different instructions for Macs with the T2 Chip. Please read the link. support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295. How do you boot in Safe Mode if the Shift key doesn't work? Try reinstalling macOS from macOS Recovery without losing data to fix any driver errors.
    – Todd
    May 8, 2020 at 16:17
  • I don't have a T2 Security Chip, unfortunately. I'm using an old apple keyboard to boot into safe mode... will try recovery ASAP !
    – Edd Growl
    May 8, 2020 at 18:00

1 Answer 1

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My MBP (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) has been hit by a small object on its keyboard. I was thinking it didn't get any damage, but several keys are not working anymore and the keyboard black light is also down.

Your keyboard is damaged and it needs to be replaced.

the left Shift ⇧ control ⌃ option ⌥ does not respond so I can't reset the SMC

So far I tried to:

  • reset NVRAM
  • start up in Safe Mode
  • reinstall macOS

Let's look at this from the perspective of an automotive analogy. None of these things are going to fix a physical issue with your computer.

  • SMC/NVRAM reset. This is like getting into an accident where a wheel falls off and thinking that if you can only reset the check engine light, things will work again.

  • Safe Mode. Same accident, but this time you remove all the bumper stickers, the large spoiler, empty the groceries from the trunk, clean out the glove compartment and put in a fresh, clean tank of gas.

  • Reinstall macOS. Again, same accident, but this time you just repaint and reupholster the interior.

Your keyboard is broken: Keyboard key stuck or not being recognized; how to fix


I wrote the following to shed some light on the some of the commonly held misconceptions regarding the all too familiar procedures for "fixing" a broken Mac by resetting the SMC/NVRAM, resintalling the software, etc. I hope I can save you some time and alleviate any consternation with respect to the diagnostic procedures in getting you to a solution to your problem.

Resetting Your NVRAM/SMC, Safe Mode, Verbose Mode, and reinstalling macOS

So often we see these as the very first go-to suggestions/solutions to every problem that a Mac faces. 99% of the time, they are not the right thing to do. So, what do they actually do?

Reset the NVRAM

Many times you see this incorrectly referred to as PRAM as well. NVRAM means Non-Volatile RAM (Random Access Memory). PRAM is Parameter RAM. PRAM was used with the PPC (Power Macintosh) like the G3, G4, PowerBook, etc. NVRAM is used with the Intel CPU based Macs.

Your NVRAM holds pre-boot environment variables like initial screen resolution, boot volume, Bluetooth keyboard identification, boot chime volume, etc. It has nothing to do with the running of your Apps or whether some of the keys on your keyboard work or don't.

Resetting your SMC

This is your power controller or what is known in the rest of the computer industry as a PMU (Power Management Unit). It's a chip made by Texas instruments that manages the flow of current, the fans, monitors the temperature, etc. There's nothing special about Apple's SMC other than it's got proprietary code and you cannot purchase it from TI.

Apple tells you when you should reset your SMC and all of the reasons have to do with power, temp, sleep, etc. It will not have any effect on software, keyboard, or wireless.

Looking at it from a PC users perspective, how many times have you heard HP or Dell tell their users to "reset the PMU" to solve an issue?

Safe Mode/Verbose Mode

These are diagnostic modes. Safe mode simple prevents 3rd party software and kexts from loading so that you have the cleanest slate possible so you can see if the problem with with macOS or something else. Verbose mode simply allows you to "see" all of the boottime messages that you might find what's hanging up your system.

These two modes won't fix the problem - they're there to help you diagnose the problem and ultimately reach a solution.

Reinstalling macOS

Too many times I see this one of the first things people do to fix a problem. Keyboard or WiFi not working? Reinstall! This should be near the bottom of the list of things to do when trying to solve an issue. In the case of a keyboard, booting into Safe Mode or even into recovery will give you a much better idea of what the problem is. Generally speaking, if the problem exists in one of these clean macOS environments another one (a fresh install) isn't going to solve it.

And just to show that a reinstall is in fact a "last resort," you can install a clean version of macOS onto a USB thumb drive, boot off of that and see if it solves your problem. If it doesn't, then you wouldn't have wasted your time wiping your drive, risking your data, only to reconfigure your Mac how you had it prior to the reinstall. If a tech leads with "reinstall macOS," run to the nearest exit.

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  • yep I was expecting that... I was hoping it wasn't physical as my keyboard doesn't look damage. thanks for the heads up on how to fix !
    – Edd Growl
    May 8, 2020 at 20:26
  • Great answer about a religious approach to fix problems before analyzing them: 👏🏻.
    – dan
    May 8, 2020 at 22:13
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    At the same time, those of us who came to this page from Google because we legitimately need to reset the SMC on a computer that also just happens to have a damaged keyboard, which is in fact what the topic of the page would lead them to assume would be addressed, are not helped much by this.
    – John Smith
    Aug 10, 2021 at 2:26

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